Just to clear some things up:
Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.” This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent."
Source - Statequarter.gov
The key word here is "fraudulently," meaning trying to alter the value or worth of the coin. So technically making a ring out of a coin is not illegal, but don't go showing it to the secretary of the mint or anything. And if you know such people, well, I'm not sure what you are doing reading this instructable (:
Step 1: Creating the Ring Shape
So essentially the goal of tapping us to flatten the outer edge of the coin so it flares out on either side. This forms the band of the ring, which will then be polished and such.
I took my golden dollar, held it vertically on the back of my vise (you can use any solid metal surface, like an anvil or railroad spike) and starting lightly tapping with a framing hammer. Although the hammer will make the whole process faster than using a spoon, you still have to be careful not to tap too hard, as the coin will flatten and you will have a morphed ring.
Continue tapping until the "flare" is slightly wider than your finger of choice. There is no perfect way to determine this, but I just held it behind my finger like I was sizing a drill bit for a screw. Tapping took me about a two hours.
Check out the pictures to clear things up.
Step 2: Rejuvenating Yourself
Step 3: Polishing the Outside of the Ring
Stick this bit-like-contraption into a drill (or whatever rotating machine you like) and keep it spinning at a fairly rapid rate, I was at about 800-900 rpm. If you don't have a setting to keep your drill on, use a rubber band or a friend who is willing to hold down a button for 15-20 minutes.
I started with 200 grit sandpaper. The key here is to keep the sand paper moving, otherwise you'll get streaks in the direction the ring was spinning. Don't forget to polish up the edge a little bit, it will be a tad sharp after all that hammering.
Then just start moving up the grits, I think I went 200, 400, 600, 1000 (didn't have 800) and then a textured resin-cloth. Once that was done, I used the textured resin-cloth again with one change: wet. This will really bring out a shine in your ring. Spend as much time as you want on this step, and there is no easy way to refinish the ring if you don't like the look once it's completed.
I stupidly forgot to take picture of the final polish, but you get the idea.
Step 4: Removing the Body of the Coin
Tighten until the coin doesn't shift when pressure is applied. Come comes the fun part. Take your drill and drill holes around the inner edge of the ring until you can remove that inner section. I'm sure there is an easier way to do this (bigger drill bit) but I didn't feel like running to the store and this seemed to work.
Take care not to go too close to rings edge, otherwise the inner circle of the finished ring will be uneven. Your coin will be extremely hot once the holes are drilled so please execute common sense.
Step 5: Making the Inside of the Ring Nice
You know those cylinder files? Well I stuck one of those in a drill and used to remove the extra material. Probably not the safest (it did fly out a few times) but it worked. Once the hole was big enough, I used a Dremel's grinding bit in a drill press and played around until I got the look I wanted. The ring had a tendency to get extremely hot very quickly, so I kept a bowl of quick-quench oil near and used it often.
Be sure to keep trying on the ring during this process, ensuring the fit you are after. The more material you shave away, the bigger it gets.
Remember, material is easy to remove, impossible to add. Check, check, check fit again.
Once the ring's inside was complete, I used some fine grain sandpaper to polish away the burrs and smooth the interior. This doesn't need to be a mirror finish like the outside, but I took my time here to make it look nice.
Step 6: Final Buffing/Polishing
Step 7: Finished!
If you look closely at some of the pictures you can see a band of copper-colored metal in the center of the ring, but it fades to silver toward the outer edge. Extremely handsome in real life.
Though it is very comfortable, I am not a ring wearer so this will go on my keys, but still a great project.
Thanks everyone! Don't forget to vote!